Scientists are training robots to feel pain

Posted May 27, 2016 by Owen Weldon
Researchers in Germany have been working on a way to make robots feel pain, or detect and respond to it. If a robot feels pain, then it can move away from anything that may damage them. This can extend robots' lifespans and prevent costly repairs.
Robots being developed at the Salford Institute for Dementia
Robots being developed at the Salford Institute for Dementia
University of Salford Press Office
Last week, Professor Sami Haddadin and Johannes Kuehn, from Leibniz University in Hannover, presented their work at a conference in Sweden. The pair demonstrated their nervous robot tissue on a robotic arm.
The robotic arm was fitted with a fingertip sensor that could detect temperature and detect pressure. Haddadin and Kuehn said their system would allow a robot to rate the potential damage that unforeseen physical states and disturbances may cause and then it would be able to undertake countermeasures.
Just as neurons transmit pain in humans, the artificial ones will pass on info to the robot, which will classify it as either light, moderate or severe pain.
When the robot arm feels light pain, it retracts until it doesn't feel it anymore, and then it returns back to normal position. It retracts quicker for moderate pain and it may or may not return to position when the pain is over. For severe pain, the bot goes into a passive mode.
Kuehn said pain is a system that protects people and when people move away from the source of the pain, it helps them not to get hurt.
The research was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation. A demonstration of the system can be seen in the video below.